Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I went through a bad divorce a couple of years ago when I found out my ex was having an affair. The hardest part was knowing he lied for me for so long, and I didn’t even sense anything was wrong.
I’ve recently started dating again, and I just keep ending up with men who treat me badly. I’m on a couple dating apps, and there have been plenty of guys who simply ignored me when I messaged them. I finally met one guy who seemed promising. We went out several times over the course of a month and were talking about vacationing together — and then he disappeared. Just stopped calling, and stopped texting. I never heard from him again.
Most recently, I met a new guy. We went out several times and he confirmed that we were exclusive. Not long after, we were confronted in a parking lot by a woman who announced she was also intimate with him. Once again, I had picked the wrong guy.
What is wrong with me? Why am I making bad choices? How can I be smarter about not investing in guys who treat me so badly? I need advice, and help.
Oh girlfriend, it can be rough out there, and I’m sorry you’ve had these disappointing experiences. Unfortunately, too many of us in the search for love have been misled, ghosted or generally disrespected — but I hear hopefulness here in your words, and I’m going to encourage you to not give up.
It’s truly tragic there isn’t some sort of instant-read thermometer that could take the temp on if a guy — or gal — is coming in hot with BS, lies and baggage. Now there’s an invention that could save us all loads of time, not to mention heartache. Shakespeare himself noted that “the course of true love never did run smooth,” and 421 long years later, it’s still facts. And talk about a time-worn Catch-22: we’re told we must be vulnerable to fall in love, yet that very openness leaves us flattened like romantic roadkill when potential partners disappoint us for the umpteenth time.
So think about how to keep pushing forward while also safeguarding yourself, and sharpening your own decision making. First of all, and this may sound prudish, but pump the breaks on intimacy. For reals. It will help weed out the players from the stayers.
Also, let up on some of the heavier conversations. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t have expectations; but give those first dates some room to bask in the frothy fumes of frivolity and infatuation, and absolve yourself of self-imposed pressure to determine whether something is going to turn into a long-term commitment.
These sound like deceptively simple steps, but moving slower and pulling up on applying too much pressure can do wonders for weighing your options and staying true to yourself.
Truth, Wanda! And let me add that you should not let these dating disasters kill your optimism and hopefulness.
I am a true believer in making your own breaks in life, and it’s a lot easier to get someone to notice you, want to spend time with you, and quickly open up to you when you walk around with a smile on your face and hope in your heart. So don’t spend any more energy telling yourself that you’re jinxed. You’re just in a slump and the only way to get out of it is to get back in the box and keep swinging.
Yes, finding that special man will probably take work, time and patience. And yes, exercising patience is really difficult when your mind starts racing — oh, I bet we’d have fun in Maui! — and your heart starts pounding — oh, I bet we’d have fun in bed! And yes, it’s tough to keep your chin up when you keep getting blindsided by bums. But chalk that up to the game and the players, not to you, your dating decisions, or you chasing your ultimate dream.
I’ll leave you with these words from the great modern poet Method Man, who wrote, “Shorty, I’m there for you anytime you need me. For real girl, it’s me in your world, believe me.” Still don’t think there are any good men left out there who are ready to go the distance with the right woman?